Sunday, Dec 03

Ford Performance - Chris Buescher Transcript

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang – YOU ARE HEADING BACK TO YOUR HOME STATE OF TEXAS AND TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND? “Yeah, it has been a big change year over year and especially two years over to now. Certainly, it is impressive to see the progression and the change and the success that we have had which has been huge. I haven’t made it this far through a playoff round before so it has been a while since we have been able to participate in the playoffs. I am proud that we did a good job and pretty comfortably made it into the next round. We didn’t expect it to be very difficult for us. I felt like with where we are at right now, we have been really fast at a lot of really good race tracks for us. Kansas, the tire going down there at the end of that race certainly put us in a hole that we didn’t expect to be in and made it a little more stressful for the beginning of Bristol. I think I talked to some of you that qualifying may not have been as good as we wanted but I knew we had a fast race car and were able to work our way up there pretty quick and stay up there in the top five. I am really happy with where we are at. Going back to Texas, we had a tire blowout there last year as well but I think we are mostly beyond that and as we head into a race track that historically hasn’t been my best but we were very fast there last year and I am excited to head back to it. We have been able to get significantly better there. The All-Star race we were a whole lot better than we have been in the past. I feel like we are on the right track here and obviously, it is always a little more exciting to go back to a home track where we have thousands of laps on every other surface there as well as the big track. It is fun to return back and I am just looking for that win on the big track now.”


THE GENERAL MANAGER AND VICE PRESIDENT OF TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY WAS PRETTY OPEN WITH REGARDS TO THE RECONFIGURE AND CHANGES TO THE TRACK. AS A DRIVER, IS THERE ANYTHING, IN PARTICULAR, YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE CHANGED AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY MOVING FORWARD RELATIVE TO THE TRACK ITSELF? “Yeah, the reconfiguration in its current state is not very old but we have seen it time and time again where new asphalt takes a long time to make decent racing. It is very difficult to get it to age appropriately to where it is not a one-groove race track. Turn 1 and 2 is extremely wide when you are talking in terms of pure asphalt but there is no banking change up the hill so essentially you have four or five lanes of race track that are completely unusable. We are limited to two lanes around Texas Motor Speedway right now and this is only because of the introduction of the PJ-1. It has been a tough race track to get the racing back to where we want it. It is a very sensitive race track but that is not abnormal when we talk about mile-and-a-half tracks but we seem to have found something that has gotten it racier than what it has been in the past. I think of some of my favorite race tracks and I am always a proponent of progressive banking. If it is going to be as wide as it is, you have to have some incentive to try to use those outermost lanes. The amount of distance that you would add trying to go up there at Texas, there has to be a significant amount of banking to make that happen. I don't know. I haven’t heard the comments and don't know how small or drastic the changes are that were discussed but I certainly feel like there are things that would cost a ton of money to do to try to make it right. It isn’t my money sitting here, so I can have a bunch of opinions but I don't have the answer. I have a few things that I feel like you could do to try and fix what we’ve got and there are always options to chop it down and rebuild it.”


YOUR WALK-UP MUSIC AT BRISTOL, ‘COUNTRY CLUBBIN’, WHY DO YOU LOVE THAT SONG SO MUCH? “I was just trying to be a little goofy with it and having a good time. I have been listening to a lot of Paul (Cauthen) lately and thought it would be fun to have a good time with the lyrics because they crack me up when I am riding around. I have been in my truck a lot lately so I figured it would be perfect for Bristol.”


YOU HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE ROUND OF 12 BEFORE BUT A LOT OF FOLKS AT ROUSH HAVE. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE THEY HAVE GIVEN YOU? “A lot of people have and I think the biggest piece of advice has been that it doesn't get any easier. This is going to be a challenge throughout the whole thing. We have been very competitive and come a long way. I feel like we have some very good tracks ahead of us and I feel like at Texas we were very fast last year and Brad (Keselowski) got a pole there and did very well in the race. Talladega obviously we will be fast. Then the Roval has been very good to us as well. I look at this round, and know we have good tracks, it is just a matter of putting together good races and staying after what we have been up to. It is going to be very challenging. The first round, I won’t say we thought it would be easy but certainly didn’t feel like it was going to be a real challenge for us. Then Kansas really threw a curve ball at us and got us way less comfortable than we wanted to be heading into Bristol. Anything like that can happen, and we know that, but I think that is what the advice has been. Just know that you are going to stay after it and no part of this is going to get any easier along the way.”


HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHERE YOU GUYS ARE AT WITH QUALIFYING AND IS THERE TIME FOR IT TO GET BETTER? “That is a fair question. I am not the strongest qualifier. It has never been my biggest quality. I have a lot to figure out there. I have certainly been trying to study it a lot more to try to get it better. I think that we have been a little better this year, off and on, maybe not consistently better, but we have had some things last year that probably led to a little better fire-off speed but hurt us in long run in the races. We have figured out how to get much better for the duration of the race. Maybe some of that has come at the expense of a little bit of fire-off speed. In the grand scheme of things we have elevated our program but to try to fire off for that one or two laps has been tough still. We are trying to study it. I don't have the answer. I know from a personal side of things it is probably one of my weaker spots so I am trying to figure out how to be stronger in that regard. Stage points can certainly add up quick and it is hard to do anything within certain scenarios. There have been some times this year where our group has certainly had a bad qualifying effort and left us very upset at the end of it, but there have also been days where it has helped us and we aren’t mad about it when it helps. You have to take them both and just understand it is a part of it. You have to study hard on it and figure out what it is. I have a computer sitting right here next to me and I was just watching qualifying videos before we dialed in here. So we are into it trying to find those little bits.”


HOW BIG OF AN ISSUE IS THIS COMPARED TO OTHER THINGS YOU ARE FOCUSED ON OR STUDYING FOR THIS ROUND? “It is pretty high up there as a priority to try to figure out how to get our qualifying better because it opens up opportunities for our group on top of the box. It opens up clean air and at a place like Texas, that is a big conversation. Even Bristol, the first stage we really thought we would be able to drive forward, and through whatever reasons it was a complete bottom-feeder race track for an entire stage and we couldn’t make any headway. I felt like we gave away a few that we were pretty positive we would be able to get to the top 10 had it been the same conditions as last year. So, it is pretty high up there because we realize it can affect a lot of our day.”


ANY FAMILY OR FRIENDS STILL LEFT IN PROSPER (TX) AND ARE YOU EXPECTING ANY AT THE TRACK THIS WEEKEND? “Not a whole lot, not from Prosper anyway. My younger sister is still in Texas, so she is coming out and I have a handful of friends that are actually closer to the race track that are going to come hang out with us for the weekend. Yeah, it always gets a little busier when we go to Texas and I get to catch up a little bit and hang out for the Xfinity race and get together to watch it. We don't have much downtime on weekends but we will get to hang out with some friends that are camping there as well. I have some options. The weekend goes quick and I have to stay focused on our job at hand too, on Sunday, and kicking off this round in a good way.”


YOU HAVE HAD GOOD FINISHES AT THE ROVAL THE LAST FEW YEARS, DESPITE STARTING OUTSIDE THE TOP 15. WHAT IS THE KEY TO NAVIGATING THAT RACE DESPITE NOT AN IDEAL STARTING SPOT? “The Roval is tricky. There are a lot of areas to get yourself in trouble. There is very little run-off. It is a very unique road course when we talk about how you go about setting up for it. We can be very good in certain areas that can be good passing zones but can give up some overall lap time in order to do that. I feel like we have studied it enough to be confident that the tradeoff is worth it and we should be able to defend the areas that may not be the best passing zones but may cost some speed at the expense of being able to roll forward and not get stuck wherever we are at in the running order. That is the gist of it, basically. We try to set it up for the right areas to make passes and understanding that the raw speed, you can give up a little bit.”


THE ROUND OF 12 HAS A SUPERSPEEDWAY AND THE ROVAL COMING UP. IS THIS GOING TO BE THE MOST UNPREDICTABLE OR MOST STRESSFUL ROUND IN THE PLAYOFFS? “I don't think so. The way I see it, the superspeedway races always have a certain amount of unpredictability but where I am at is I know RFK will be bringing fast Fords to that race. I know we will be in contention to win it, assuming we can survive the chaos. But I think we have seen that same chaos at a lot of different tracks throughout the year. Bristol last year was a train wreck when you talk about cars falling out and having issues. I promise you after losing out on a bunch of points at Kansas, it was on my mind going into Bristol, knowing we would be fast but that there was an array of issues that popped up last year and took really good cars and ruined their days and their playoffs. I don't know that any of these races coming up have me any more stressed out than the Bristol race had me going into it. If we can go to Texas and have a good day and have a rough Talladega, then yeah, the Roval will be more stressful. I don't get too caught up in worrying about it. Martinsville can be very rough. Even Texas last year had a lot of issues too. I don't know that there is any one round that looks worse over another. I am excited for this round because I know we will be fast at all these race tracks and if we can control that part of it and take care of ourselves then it shouldn’t be that stressful on us.”


CAN THIS BE AN OPPORTUNITY ROUND FOR THE 17 TEAM THEN CONSIDERING HOW WELL YOU RUN AT SUPERSPEEDWAYS AND ROAD COURSES? “Yeah, I think that is just it. I think that is what is going to make it maybe a little less stressful for us than some others. That can change in a heartbeat with one bad day before we get to the Roval but as of right now, I am very excited for this round. I feel like all of the race tracks we are going to, out of all the race tracks in the playoffs, Darlington was the one that I felt like we needed the most improvement at and felt like that one was going to be tough and we would have to work really hard to just survive that one. We went there and ran third on the day. I am proud of what everyone has done to get us to this point and proud to say we will look at the race tracks coming up as opportunities at each and every one of them. I don't have one coming up that has me stressed out or down about it or thinking we just have to get through it and get to the next one.”


ARE THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS MAYBE YOUR LAST HURDLE TO BEING COMPETITIVE AT EVERY TRACK, SINCE YOUR BEST FINISH ON ONE THIS YEAR HAS BEEN EIGHTH? “You know, if it weren’t for Michigan I would say that there is maybe a little more merit to it but obviously it is bigger yet but a lot of what we do at Michigan does carry over into our mile-and-a-halves. I think internally we can point to some things through the year at the 1.5-mile tracks that can make us better. I think that in one way, we certainly have gotten better after the first couple of months of the season where we had been to a few and maybe didn’t have our strongest showings but we haven’t had many to lean into, and compare where we have come this season. Kansas would have been the one. Granted, that was not as competitive as we wanted to be there but certainly felt like we had some glimpses of good things there and have some ideas that we certainly want to try going back. Yeah, it is the one that we haven’t been able to run as good at and get that result, but I think on our side we have some good understanding of why that is or some situation that may have happened along the way that leads the stats to say that. Again, Texas we were running third when we blew a tire there and had just run our fastest lap of the race and we were in a really good spot last year. It is a track that I look at as a good opportunity for us to go have a good day still. Putting aside that we haven’t been as strong at the mile-and-a-halfs but we haven’t had many the last couple of months.”


HOW MANY HOURS ON THE SIMULATOR THIS WEEK? “We had a luncheon so it cut an hour out, but we have done three hours this week.”


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